An unusually large contingent of law enforcement officers, wielding firearms, were seen at the Gatesville CBD, removing stock and fining informal traders today. Picture: Screengrab
An unusually large contingent of law enforcement officers, wielding firearms, were seen at the Gatesville CBD, removing stock and fining informal traders today. Picture: Screengrab

Cape law enforcement came like they were gangsters, say Gatesville traders

By Shakirah Thebus Time of article published Apr 15, 2021

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Cape Town – Informal traders at Gatesville CBD say they struggle to obtain trading permits, leading to regular clashes with law enforcement officers.

An unusually large contingent of law enforcement officers, wielding firearms, were seen at the Gatesville CBD, removing stock and fining informal traders on Thursday.

Informal trader Tasneem Omar, said the harassment by law enforcement occurs often, at least twice a week.

“Today, they came like they were gangsters, they came with massive guns, vans and trucks. The way they approached us, it was very horrible.”

Omar has been trading for the past 13 years in Gatesville.

“I found a place where nobody was standing and was standing there for over a year. This was my only source of income that I have. All my stock was removed. I went to the market just after fajr (prayer).”

Over R 4 000 worth of goods was confiscated. Omar was fined R500 for trading without a permit, and R1 670.30 needed to be paid to retrieve her stock.

“People are struggling to obtain trading permits. They can’t assist me at all. People are selling their permits, other people are trading on other permits.”

Law enforcement spokesperson Wayne Dyason said officers had issued 12 fines.

Dyason said: “The area is a legislated and gazetted prohibited informal trading area whereby informal trading is only permitted within the legislated and gazetted demarcated bays by City permit holding traders.”

Gatesville Informal Traders Association secretariat Naeem Frances said the unnecessary use of force will be met with resistance and won’t be taken lightly.

“Informal traders had their goods confiscated even though they had permits. Others had their goods confiscated without being given the necessary receipt, and others were fined for trading.

“The City doesn't seem to make headway, because every nook and cranny where we find the ability to resist, we resist this onslaught from the City against us as informal traders. We will not back down,” he said.

“But then again how resistant can one really be against the kind of machinery that is being used here and the kind of approach. It's the City’s age old intimidatory antics.”

ANC MP Faiez Jacobs condemned law enforcement for their heavy handedness in the handling of informal traders in Gatesville.

“They are not a law unto themselves and should display some basic humanity towards people trying their utmost to feed their families under very difficult pandemic times.

“Whilst we are doing our utmost to support survivalist and small business enterprises to survive and grow into sustainable business that create jobs and support the economy, the CoCT confiscates people's goods and livelihoods. They should hang their heads in shame.”

He added that since many of these informal traders are trading whilst fasting “the City shows no respect and regard but rather acts in provocation and total disregard”.

He added: “The City must stop this madness and declare a special dispensation to encourage informal trade as an entry point to our formal economy. They must do more to alleviate the plight of informal traders many of whom have been struggling for decades without support. We must ask for whom is this City working?”

Cape Argus

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